Miami, Florida Fire Leaves Many Homeless

Sunday morning rain pelted about a dozen newly homeless residents of a Margate apartment building as they stared up at the ruins of their belongings.

With smoke still hanging thick in the air, those in the group tried to come to terms with their losses from the huge, Saturday night blaze that destroyed 16 units in the Cross Creek Apartments, 280 SW 56th Ter.

By late Sunday afternoon, a crane and bulldozer were removing debris from the site. Officials were fencing off the rest of the building. The cause of the fire was still under investigation Sunday evening.

The fire, which began in a second-floor unit in building five about 9:20 p.m., spread rapidly and raged for nearly four hours, drawing dozens of firefighters from departments all across North Broward.

Wesler Dieuste, 43, awoke when a firefighter banged on his door, shouting for him to get out. He shouted to his wife, two teenage children, and his 80-year-old mother.

''I didn't even have time to put any clothes on,'' he said.

Without relatives nearby, Dieuste and his family slept at a Red Cross shelter Saturday, though they got little rest.

''It was so hard to sleep. I got a couple hours,'' he said. ``I don't know what I'm going to do. I have nowhere to go.''

Residents said most people in the complex don't have renters' insurance. Cross Creek's security director, Dan Magno, said the complex's owner is trying to move the displaced residents temporarily into other units in the 17-building complex.

Jesus Aguilar, 43 lived in one of the second floor's most damaged units with his three friends. With only a towel to cover his shoulders, he held a razor, absentmindedly, while looking up at his home, black and still smoking. ''The water damage is so bad,'' he said. The fire ``was uncontrollable.''

Herald staff writer Kevin Deutsch contributed to this report.